A teenage boy suffering from curvature of the spine begins swimming every week at the local pool, at the repeated request of his chiropractor. In the interior and echoing world of the swimming pool, surrounded by anonymous bodies and in between lengths, he becomes acquainted with a girl who agrees to give him pointers on his poor technique.
It is the start of a tentative friendship, one that exists only in the water, every Wednesday; a friendship made up of touches, gestures and shared silences more than conversation. As their relationship develops, the boy's need for the girl grows, until the pool becomes for him a place freighted with expectancy and longing. One day, she mouths a message underwater - but what could it mean?
Chlorine is an intimate and evocative work, revealing in simple yet beautifully-drawn and coloured panels an extraordinary world. With it, Bastien Vivès confirms his place as one of the most original and promising young writers of today.
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This is one of those books that I want to say lots about in order to convince you to read it but find myself rendered slightly speechless by its simplicity, its beauty and its sheer ability to move the reader. It is easily the best graphic novel I have read this year and for quite some time. A bit like reading a perfectly honed short story or novella. I can't imagine a person who wouldn't find their life enriched by reading it. - Just William's Luck (blog)
If shades of turquoise and aquamarine are your thing, then you will find this book extraordinarily beautiful. Low on dialogue, it's Vivès's remarkable illustrations that draw you on... It's like watching an extremely watery silent movie: evocative, dreamlike, mysterious. Never before has the monotony of swimming lengths seemed so appealing. - The Observer
Bastien Vives is attuned to the vulnerability of adolescent physiques and feelings. He bathes these young bodies in swathes of turquoise, shifting from flesh-coloured outlines above the surface to grey-green abstractions beneath, transforming the swimming pool into a special space, filled with hopes and desires. - Times Literary Supplement
Every once in a while, a graphic novel comes along that warrants the kind of attention more typically bestowed upon the likes of the Booker shortlist. Bastien Vivès's A Taste of Chlorine is one such book. Vivès manages to combine the unspoken yearning of Lost in Translation with the low-key detail of a film-maker such as Tom McCarthy. What's more, the art is such that you'll frequently find yourself stopping to admire the beauty of a single frame. Highly recommended. - Independent on Sunday
A Taste of Chlorine is a fun and soothing simple pleasure. - Dazed & Confused
A Taste of Chlorine is a wonderfully engrossing book, with few words, Vivès' artwork, in ripple-edged frames and a muted palette, predominantly of aquamarine, draws one in, almost imperceptibly until, in parallel to the closing underwater scenes, one finds one has become completely submerged by the characters and their simple story beautifully told. And, like the boy, completely desirous to know more about the girl and as desperate to decipher what exactly it is she said underwater. - Plectrum - the Cultural Pick webzine
This beautifully drawn book cleverly examines the intricacies and complications of friendship, heightened by the intimate world of the swimming pool. - Booktrust
It is beautifully portrayed. I personally loved this method of story-telling. It is almost taking you back to the roots of telling stories without being too verbose and all through pictures. The book is well drawn and intriguing. - The Hungry Reader
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About the Author
Bastien Vivès is a graphic novelist and illustrator. He is the author of several highly-acclaimed graphic novels, including The Butcher and Hollywood in January. Chlorine won the 'Essential Revelation' prize at the Angouleme Festival in 2009. He lives in Paris.